Topics, Talking Points and Ideas for Blog Posts
According to the Blaugust schedule, its “Topic Brainstorming Week”. I shall interpret this literally and see if I can come up with some hints and tips about what to write about. Because at some point, all bloggers (and potentially other content creators) will sit down in their preferred environment, crack their knuckles and then remain with their hands poised over the keyboards, waiting for inspiration to strike like a thunderbolt. And sometimes nothing comes, or more to the point none of the ideas you come up with particularly inspire you. And therein in lies the reality of blogging. Not every post is a labour of love, a literary milestone or of social significance like the Gettysburg Address (feel free to insert an alternative regionally relevant stirring speech here. I prefer Henry V Act 3, Scene 1 myself). Sometimes, you have to pick something straight forward to write about and produce three or so paragraphs of adequate material. It may not be Shakespeare but it doesn’t have to be “filler” either.
Reviews, virtual diaries and streams of consciousness: I don’t do brevity very well. If I write a film review that’s under five hundred words, I feel I’ve not done the subject justice. However, that’s on me and is simply a foible of my personality. Short, succinct posts can be good Therefore, brief reviews, or initial impressions or simple musings on a game, TV show, movie, book, or news item about the video game industry can make excellent blog posts. Keeping diaries about the games you’re playing, the item you’re knitting or the plant that you’re growing can also fun and straight forward. Streams of consciousness about your day can also be very engaging. Two good examples are Belghast’s daily posts and Jamie’s “What’s Occurring” You Tube channel. You’d be surprised how global readers like to get to know about you, where you live and what your life is like.
Riffing off other posts, think pieces and open debates: I make no bones about this, I regularly read the various columns, editorials and “soap box” post over at Massively Overpowered and then use them as a starting point for a blog post. Because they have exactly the same dilemma as the non-professional writer. IE coming up with interesting posts on a regular basis. So why not let them do the heavy lifting? At least they get paid. Another avenue to explore is think pieces. Is there a game mechanic that is ubiquitous, that you don’t like? Do you have an idea for an alternative? Then write about it. Why not dissect and analyse the machinations of the video games industry? When writing about what you love, you can focus or either the small or the big picture. Furthermore, when tackling a big subject, it isn’t essential to have all the answers. Throwing open a question to debate is great for comments or another blogger picking up the gauntlet and continuing the discussion.
Guides, FAQs and walkthroughs: Now these can be blogging gold, if done to the right standard. Take a website such as Dulfy’s MMO Guides. It has over time become one of the de facto MMO gaming sites, just through dogged determination in covering the things that gamers want to know about. There is great deal of information out there pertaining to games and other leisure activities that people assume is “well known”. But that is not always the case. Therefore writing the most basic of tips can be very useful to others. I recently wrote about the various libraries of data that addons in ESO are dependent on. You can update the addon but if you don’t update the reciprocal library, things still won’t work. This simple post has been well received. Therefore, never worry about sharing information or personal experiences. There’s always someone who will find it useful.
Screenshots, funny videos and “chummy posts”: As I mentioned earlier, not every post you write has to be “weighty”. A substantial amount of your potential readers don’t want to have to wade through 3,000 words of long form analysis. Sometimes a simple screenshot taken at the end of a major raid, or of an achievement or cosmetic item will delight your audience. People often invest their time into certain hobbies and pastimes as a way to unwind. Therefore a humorous post, or a funny screen capture can really hit the spot. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t care for the mantra “you are your own brand” but I cannot deny its truth. If you produce easy going content that’s light and entertaining, you’ll find your niche. Sometimes your readership or audience are following you because of your personality. A cheerful post may be what someone who is having a bad day is exactly looking for.
Naturally, this post has only scratched the surface of ideas for potential posts. Contrary to what some may think, there is always something to write about. Writers block is frankly an excuse and a lot of quality writers who I respect, calmly and rationally assert that is can be addressed and overcome. I’m interested to see what ideas some of the other Blaugust mentors come up with for “Topic Brainstorming Week”. But ultimately, this is something that has to be addressed by each individual blogger or content creator. You have to eventually grasp the nettle and produce something. And once done, you’ll find that writing (insert comparable activity here that is relevant to you) becomes a lot easier. That’s not to say it should become a job but producing anything creatively requires some effort and application. It’s not always a walk in the park. But the more you do the better you become.